This is the final chapter. I am actually very sad, I enjoyed writing this story so much. I would like to thank Errihu my beta for volunteering to work with me! Errihu is currently writing 'Those Whom the Gods Desire' a Sakura and Gaara story its quite interesting, you should check it out.
I want to thank every single one of you guys for reading and for reviewing. Quite a few of you have stayed with me from the very beginning and I just feel so honored that you have, and that you have reviewed consistently. I really appreciate it.
Just so you know this won't be the last story I write. I am currently writing another Hinata and Gaara story. Alright I've talked enough I hope this last chapter is an enjoyable read.
A sigh of contentment fell from Gaara's lips as he felt Hinata snuggle against his side. He had been gone for two weeks without his wife. It was always a tough visit to see the Tsuikage without Hinata there to keep him for giving into his rage. Not that Hinata hadn't argued and thrown a fit when he left her behind. But she hadn't been feeling well and he wasn't going to have her travel with him. Instead he had sent her to Shawna for a checkup.
He could now sleep with her in his arms, her long black hair was spread across his shoulder her lips pressed against his collarbone, long eyelashes tickled his skin as she blinked sleepily. Her smell was intoxicating especially after making love; his senses seemed to be sharpened after such activity.
"Gaara." Hinata whispered against his skin sleepily.
"Hmm." Gaara muttered out trying to stay awake but failing miserably.
"I have to tell you something." Hinata continued.
"Don't worry I was cordial with the Tsuikage." Gaara murmured against her neck.
"Well that's good to hear." Hinata replied.
"Hn, even when he said my wife was the prettiest little thing in wind country."
"That's a nice complement."
Gaara snorted and continued. "Not when he said if he was younger he would have taken you from me."
Hinata laughed. "He's just an old man Gaara." She was silent for a moment before she began again. "I have something to tell you."
Gaara just nodded his head for her to continue his hands absently stroked up and down her back. Life had never been as good to him as it was in that very moment.
"Um, we are expecting." Hinata commented in a low voice.
"Expecting what?" Gaara asked in a voice thick with sleep.
"You know, our love has been fruitful." Hinata replied her voice tinged with embarrassment. An adorable blush stained her cheeks.
"Have you been planting fruit trees in the garden?" Gaara asked he was awakening slightly. This conversation was sounding vaguely familiar. "Fruit trees don't grow very well here. We should probably return the trees and get our money back."
Gaara let a weary sigh out against her neck. Why did she insist on planting things that would not grow, it was a terrible waste of time and resources. Resources such as his money.
"No." Hinata replied her voice slightly exasperated. "In the future we could be expecting an addition to the family."
Now that caught his attention he suddenly sat up dislodging his wife from his side and stared at her with wide green eyes. "Your sister is not welcome here Hinata. I thought I made myself clear."
Cold fear ran down his spine as he stared at his wife. He had only been gone for 14 days, he had counted the days. How could things get so out of hand in such a short time?
"Hinata, I put up with Hanabi's sporadic visits and deadly gifts as best I can. If she should move here I cannot promise her safety." He growled out the last sentence.
"Your being absurd Gaara." Hinata snipped back in irritation. "She isn't that bad."
"I'm never leaving you behind again. I can't believe what I have to come home to." Gaara replied in a growl.
Hinata sat up pulling the sheet with her to cover her chest as she glared at him. "Gaara I'm pregnant."
Gaara's head snapped back at the statement. He blinked once than once more. He opened his mouth and closed it several times before he finally was able to say something.
"Hinata… and we just….and I was…." Gaara began. "...and we...made love."
"That's usually how one becomes pregnant." Hinata replied with dry humor.
Gaara snapped his mouth shut and stared at her with wide eyes.
"Are you not happy?" Hinata asked suddenly worried at his reaction. "I thought you wanted a child."
"It's been three years Hinata...and it feels like we have been trying for so long. I came to the conclusion that we might not have a child." Gaara's voice was gravelly sounding, his green eyes were bright.
"I never gave up that hope." Hinata breathed out a tear slid down her face as she placed her hand over her stomach and looked down. "I didn't realize you had given up on me."
His eyes softened as he stared at his wife he placed a hand over hers. Hinata stared down at their hands placed against her stomach. She hated to admit how jealous she was when Temari and Shikamaru had a girl after only one year of marriage. Or even how Aiko had given Kiba a son. Gaara was never aware of how she felt until seven months ago when Kankuro and Matsuri announced that they were expecting a child. Gaara had found her curled up in their bathroom sobbing into one of the baby blankets Hanabi sent as good luck charms.
"I have never given up on you. I just didn't want you to feel pressured." Gaara replied his voice low.
Gently he pushed Hinata onto her back and crawled over her. He slide down her body settled himself between her legs he lowered his head and pressed his ear against her stomach. Hinata placed a hand in his hair letting the silk strands fall between her fingers as she felt the warm breath against her stomach felt his hands play against her skin. One of his hands snaked around her waist pulling her even closer to him as his red hair tickled against her stomach.
"Are you sure your pregnant I can't hear anything. Shouldn't he be kicking?" Gaara asked in concern his voice fell against her skin his lips touched her belly button.
Hinata let out a bell like laugh as she tugged on Gaara's hair. He let her pull him up.
"Gaara it's too soon for the baby to move." Hinata kissed his chin and smiled. "How do you know it's a boy?"
Gaara gave his blank look of innocents. "What else could it be?"
"What if it's a girl?" Hinata asked.
"It will definitely be a boy." Gaara stated bluntly.
"You may be the Kazekage but you don't have any control over the sex of our child."
"Hn." Gaara grunted as he wrapped his arms around his wife and held her close his hand splayed against her stomach in wonder.
"I love you Gaara." Hinata said softly.
"I love you more." Gaara whispered as he fell asleep.
"I will have to cut this meeting shorter than expected." Gaara interrupted one of the council members with a raised hand for silence. "I have a pending obligation to attend to."
Gaara stood up from his seat and walked out leaving all the men in the room in a state of shock. The Kazekage had never cut short a meeting. It must have been something pressing indeed for him to leave so early and so abruptly.
Gaara knew perfectly well that he had left his council in shock but he did have obligations that he was bound to perform. He spotted his wife; her long black hair was twisted and pinned elegantly up. At her feet Anubis sat waiting quietly besides his mistress. At the sound of his approach Hinata turned brightly to her husband.
"I'm I late?" Gaara asked as he brushed his fingers against her hand in greeting.
"No, for once you're right on time." Hinata replied with a soft smile as she hooked her finger around his.
"Do you think she will pass?" Gaara asked softly watching the academy doors.
"What a thing to say. She is your daughter. Of course she will pass."
Gaara scanned the rest of the parents and spotted Matsuri waiting for her son, Ebizu. Kankuro and Matsuri's one and only child. Ebizu was almost as good as his Father when it came to the mastering puppet jutsus. But what made him stand out was his kindness, he didn't have the biting sarcasm that his Father once had. He took after his Matsuri.
A few people over stood Kakashi leaning up against a tree his good eye trained on Rin who stood next to him talking softly. After taking Rin back to Konohagakure, the three of them returned a month later and reenlisted in Sunagakure. Apparently a lot had happened in that one month. Gaara had never asked it was a matter beneath him but Hinata couldn't help herself, and had thus gained all the details on the matter.
Kakashi was able to vouch on Rin's behalf before the Hokage gaining her a reprieve. A couple of days later they were married. And after another couple of days of Miyo pestering they decided to return to Sunagakure. Thus with a note of recommendation from the Hokage, Sunagakure had gained three capable shinobi. And if the Kazekage's memory was correct, and of course it was, the famous copy-nin's youngest son, Sakumo was in the academy.
The doors of the building flew open and out filed the students most of which were shouting with excitement, while others eyed their new teammates with curiosity. Gaara immediately spotted his seven-year-old daughter Yoshino with her signature red hair and bright blue eyes. She walked solemnly toward her parents, two boys followed behind her Ebizu and Sakumo.
"Did you pass?" Gaara asked bluntly to his daughter.
Hinata frowned at Gaara's blunt statement and then smiled at her daughter. "We love you either way darling."
"I passed." Yoshino replied calmly.
Hinata let out a squeak of excitement as she hugged her daughter. Gaara gave a small smile.
"Hn don't be so modest Yoshino." Ebizu replied with folded arms.
"Yeah." Sakumo piped in. "Yoshino graduated top of her class."
Yoshino didn't react at all to the statements she just stared at her Father her blue eyes seemed vacant of emotion.
"I would expect no less from my daughter." Gaara praised softly. "Did you get placed on a Genin team?"
"Ebizu and Sakumo are my team mates." Yoshino replied her voice low. "Kano is our Sensei."
"That's wonderful." Matsuri piped in next to Hinata. "I am sure the three of you will work well together, won't you, baby?"
"Mommm." Ebizu whined at her. "I am a man."
Matsuri smiled as she ruffled her son's wild brown hair. Kakashi placed a hand on his son's shoulder his gray eye serious as he stared down at him.
"Remember son, the most important rule is to never leave your teammate behind."
"Come on you two. Kano Sensei said he would take us out for lunch and we would discuss our team strategy." Ebizu cried as he led the way toward Kano.
Yoshino followed behind the boys. Kakashi and Rin said goodbye to the Kazekage and walked off followed by Matsuri leaving Hinata and Gaara alone.
"I worry about Yoshino sometimes, she never shows emotion." Hinata whispered softly.
"She smiled." Gaara replied quickly as he absently patted Anubis on the head.
"No she didn't, she never smiles." Hinata protested in concern.
"Emotions are useless Hinata." Gaara replied bluntly.
Hinata glared at Gaara in anger. "If that's the case than you can bet those trysts we have will stop right now."
Gaara's eyes widened. "You wouldn't dare!"
"Emotions are useless." Hinata taunted as she walked away from him.
Gaara narrowed his eyes as he watched his lovely wife swing her hips provocatively from side to side, as she walked. She wouldn't dare, or would she? Frowning Gaara quickly followed his wife to see if she was serious.
Gaara sat at the kitchen counter drinking his coffee his eyes on his three-year-old son who was sitting next to him attempting to eat the porridge that Hinata had just made for him. The Kazekage shivered in disgust at the porridge, how his own flesh and blood could stand that vile stuff was beyond him. Haruto had most of the porridge all over his face and small hands.
"Daddy!" Haruto shouted in excitement reaching a grubby hand over to smear porridge over the white robes of his Father.
Gaara suppressed the irritated sigh and gave a strained smile to his son instead. Haruto was so different than his older sister Yoshino. Haruto was loud, he smiled, loved playing games, and was full of energy. Gaara wondered who his son took after; it certainly wasn't himself or Hinata.
"Daddy guess what I learned." Haruto continued his face creasing into a big smile.
Gaara absently took a towel and tried to clean the mess off his robes. He stopped and turned his greenish eyes once more to meet the darker green eyes of his son. Haruto gripped a small scroll and unrolled it on the table, he stood on top of his chair and with a serious look on his little face he did two hand signals and placed palms flat on the scroll. There was a slight puff of smoke as a rice ball suddenly appeared atop the scroll. Haruto was beside himself with excitement as he clapped his hands dark wisps of his black hair bounced up and down.
Gaara was impressed his three year old son had mastered the art of sealing things into scrolls and releasing them. Although the Kazekage would have preferred the object to be sealed away to be more along the lines of a weapon and not food. Gaara quickly snatched the rice ball out of his son's hands before Haruto could take a bite.
"Haruto, sealing scrolls are better put to use to store weapons and not food." Gaara instructed as he wrinkled his nose at the moldy rice ball and promptly threw it away.
Haruto's lower lip began to twitch slightly and Gaara knew he was about to have water works if Gaara didn't praise him.
"You did well." Gaara stated simply.
That did the trick. Haruto was all smiles again. Gaara raised his eyes to spot his wife walking into the kitchen their ten-year-old daughter stood in the doorway a blank look on her face. Hinata smiled brightly as she placed a hand on Gaara's shoulder, leaned over and kissed him on the cheek good morning. Gaara all but sighed with contentment as he eyes followed his wife around the kitchen. After the birth of Haruto, Hinata had not been able to lose the extra weight as quickly as she had with Yoshino. It must of have been because of age, yet Gaara found her more appealing than ever, she wasn't overweight she was just more curvy than before.
"Your daughter has something to discuss with you dear." Hinata commented as she took a damp washcloth and began cleaning Haruto's face and grubby hands.
Yoshino came around the table and stood in front of her Father.
"Yes." Gaara asked.
"Kano Sensei is going to ask your permission to enter Team Kano in the Chunin exams held in Konohagakure. I want you to say yes." Yoshino stated bluntly her lavender eyes darkened.
Gaara kept his face blank of emotion he knew Kano was going to approach him but Gaara was prepared to deny his team entry. Gaara's green eyes took in Yoshino. From her flaming red hair to her blue eyes, she was his little girl.
"That's my business Yoshino." Gaara replied simply.
"No it's not Father. Just because I am the youngest in Team Kano doesn't mean I slow the others down at all." Yoshino pointed out. "If you deny our team entry Ebizu and Sakumo will blame me for the denial of our team."
"I will take it all into consideration." Gaara replied bluntly. "Now didn't I just assign your team to search out a lost civilian?"
Yoshino's face didn't change but her eyes narrowed. "I am leaving for the mission right now."
"Good luck sweetie." Hinata said as she gave her daughter a kiss atop her head and ushered her out the door. "Gaara don't be over protective, if Kano deems the Team ready for the exams don't hold them back because you're scared."
"Hn." Gaara grunted out as he took a sip of his coffee. "I am the Kazekage, Hinata, and I will make the final decision."
"Of course you will." Hinata replied with a smile as she leaned against the table counter.
"Daddy." Haruto cried trying to regain his Fathers attention once more.
"What?" Gaara asked turning in his chair to face his son once more only to get a face full of teddy bear.
"Look what I found." Haruto chirped in excitement as he pulled the worn down teddy bear back into his secure embrace.
Gaara's eyes widened as he took in the appearance of the thread bare, worn out teddy bear that would not die. It was going to haunt him for the rest of his life apparently.
"Hinata you better wash that thing." Gaara ordered.
"I'm on it." Hinata replied as she scooped up their son teddy bear and all and headed for the bathroom.
Gaara stood next to the Hokage his eyes focused completely on the gates that marked the exit from the Forest of Darkness. His heart was racing in fear; it was taking too long, way too long. One team was already announced missing which inevitably meant death. Another team came in missing one teammate and one of the Proctors went in after the missing Genin.
The Kazekage's eyes slide to Kano who looked bored almost as if he was going to fall asleep. If it wasn't for the twitching muscle on the side of his neck anyone would have thought him unconcerned for the safety of his team. However, the Sand Leader knew Kano had been anxious ever since Yoshino was placed on his team. Being the Sensei for the Kazekage's daughter was a privilege and a nightmare all in one.
Gaara had argued uselessly with his wife that Yoshino was only ten and not old enough to take the exam. Kano mentioned that out of his three Genin it was Yoshino who held them all together in a tight spot. Her quick thinking and tactical skill had progressed immensely since graduating from the academy. She was just as good as her Father was at that age if not better.
In the end Gaara had allowed her to take the Chunin exam but only if he came also. Yoshino voiced her irritation at having her Father and Mother coming also. Such an outburst was rare from Yoshino. She hid all her emotions and one could never figure out what she was thinking, but not this time. In all ten years of her short life she had never thrown a tantrum but she did that day, and Gaara was quite shocked. Hinata had laughed afterward at his shocked expression and said something along the lines of 'didn't think your little princess would throw such a fit, did you?'
Now his wife was out shopping with her sister, Aiko, and Tenten; not concerned in the least that her oldest child could be in danger while her husband stood here in horrible fear waiting for his daughter's team to come out.
"It's been too long." Gaara muttered.
Naruto gave a nervous laugh at the sight of his friend. "I felt the same way when my son was taking the exams, Gaara. Don't worry our kids are stronger than we think."
Gaara just folded his arms trying to hide the fear that was radiating across his chest.
Then there was movement Gaara immediately spotted the messy haired tall lanky form of his nephew, Ebizu striding through the trees. Following closely on his heels was his cousin, Karura, Temari's oldest daughter her dirty blond hair pulled up into a hairstyle very similar to her Fathers. Two more Genin appeared, Sakumo with his wind blown dark brown hair, followed closely on his heels the son of Tenten and Neji with his strange colored eyes and blank expression.
But what followed just about stopped Gaara's heart completely. Yoshino was being carried on the back of a tall Genin with wild light brown hair that curled around his chin and fell over his eyes; two purple triangular tattoos ran down his cheekbones. A small nin-dog was jumping around his heels as he walked. The boy was laughing and smiling as he talked animatedly with Yoshino every once and awhile throwing a smile over his shoulder at her as he carried her.
"Who is that carrying my daughter?" Gaara seethed through clenched teeth.
"Masaru Inuzuka, oldest son of Kiba's." Naruto replied.
"I see." Gaara replied his voice had a cold chill to it.
He watched as the Inuzuka boy handed Yoshino over to her Sensei, no one caught the way the boy let his fingers slip through Yoshino's reddish blond hair or the softening that came over the boy's wild looks when he watched the Kazekage's daughter being carried away. It was the same look Gaara gave every time he saw Hinata. A cold shiver of forebodingran down his spine as he turned to follow Kano to the hospital.
"Gaara let her be." Hinata whispered, as she tugged her husband along behind her.
"I don't like the looks of that kid." Gaara hissed as he kept looking over his shoulder.
"Yoshino and Masaru are friends." Hinata replied in exasperation.
"She never speaks of him." Gaara protested as he dug his heels in a little bit more.
"Gaara!" Hinata finally snapped. "Let her speak to the boy."
"Fine!" Gaara bit off a bit too bluntly.
"Yoshino!" Hinata called over her shoulder as she stepped behind Gaara and began to push him forward, "Just meet us at your Grandfathers house, alright sweetie."
"Yes Mother." Yoshino muttered out and turned back to the Inuzuka.
She stared in surprise at the tall male that towered over her. She swallowed. Masaru was far more magnificent than he was in his youth. Indubitably he was now taller, stronger, heavier, and incredibly more handsome and virile. His cheekbones painted with the clans signature purple tattoos defined by the bronze of his skin. A straight lean nose and darkly lashed amber eyes as translucent as liquid gold. The heavy scent of cinnamon and dog biscuits hit her as he leaned forward toward her. It was a strong scent and any normal girl would have covered her nose and scurried away. For some strange reason she was drawn to him.
"You've grown up Sand Princess." His voice was a gruff bark.
"It's Yoshino." She corrected coolly still staring helplessly at him.
"Yeah, I remember, only Sand Princess suites you better." He rumbled out at her.
Yoshino narrowed her eyes at him.
"You do remember me right?" He growled out his breath washed over her.
"Masaru Inuzuka." The words fell from her lips before she realized she could have been snotty and told him she had no clue who he was.
"I was afraid you might have forgotten me." Masaru gave a feral grin, as he reached out and fingered her long red tresses.
Yoshino felt herself leaning forward into his woodsy smell; his eyelidsslid lower over the burning amber of his eyes. She closed her eyes and relaxed against the warmth that seemed to radiate off him. She was quickly brought back to reality when the strong spicy scent of cinnamon hit her nose. Her blue eyes flew open as her lips met the rough texture of a biscuit pressed against her lips.
"Dog biscuit?" Masaru asked with a lopsided grin at her surprised expression.
Yoshino froze as she watched him bite down on the treat and chew it with a look of pleasure on his face.
"That's...that's disgusting." Yoshino shivered out brushing the crumbs from her lips.
"Hey, don't knock it till you try it." Masaru argued through a mouth full of biscuit.
Yoshino understood now why she didn't like guys they were disgustingly dirty creatures with bad habits. But Masaru interested her more than any other male she had met, maybe because he had saved her life during the exams. A fact she would rather forget. He waved another biscuit beneath her nose as if to entice her with it. His lopsided grin was contagious and against her better judgment she took the biscuit from his hand and took a nibble. Surprise light up her face as she realized they tasted good.
"I was just teasing, there really just cinnamon cookies." Masaru replied with a warm smile.
For the first time in years, Yoshino smiled back.
"Masaru just arrived a few minutes ago." Hinata commented vaguely as she walked beside her daughter.
Yoshino was careful to hide her excitement. She kept her blue eyes on the red sand beneath her feet as she followed her Mother down town.
"Why would I care?" Gaara muttered as he glanced at Yoshino.
"I was making the statement to Yoshino, not you Gaara." Hinata replied with an eye roll.
"Why should it matter to me, Tu is a relative of his. Why shouldn't he visit?" Yoshino muttered in her monotone voice.
Gaara gave a curt nod of agreement and smirked at his wife. Hinata narrowed her eyes at her husband before smiling sweetly.
"Gaara it's been awhile since we last went sand surfing together."
"You want to go right now?" Gaara asked in irritation. "I don't think now is a good time. Not when we have a foreigner in the village."
"Now is the perfect time." Hinata grounded out as she hooked her arm in Gaara's and steered him in the opposite directions.
"Yoshino and I were going to train this afternoon." Gaara began to protest again.
"You can do that later." Hinata replied, "You can spare your Father can't you Yoshino?"
"Yes Mother I can." Yoshino replied now understanding what her Mother was doing. "You two have fun."
As soon as her parents were out of view she turned and headed the opposite direction. Her feet lead her to the main gate were Masaru and his dog were waiting for her. Thankfully, the two ninjason front gate duty were asleep.
"Hey what's with that look?" Masaru asked with a raised brow.
"I don't know why you insist on visiting me."
"Why wouldn't I?I still long to hear three words from you and will pester you until you finally say them." Masaru replied with a smirk
"If I do that than you have it all, my feelings, my emotions, and I'll have nothing."Yoshinowhispered. "I won't have anything to protect from you."
"You're a complicated woman you know that. Most would let their feelingsgo, not you though. In the end if you're not willing to take the risk than you shouldn't fall in love." Masaru leaned his head to the side and smiled down at her. "You've led a privileged life, Yoshino, never had to feel anything if you didn't want to. Now you're at a crossroads and you don't know what to do. I won't make the decision for you. You're a big girl, Sand Princess."
Oh how she hated that nickname. It made her want to call him 'dog breath' or 'dog boy.'
"You need to come to terms with your feelings for me." Masaru rumbled out.
"Do not presume I hold any feelings for you." Yoshino snipped back.
"Really?" Masaru drawled out as his hand closed around the back of her neck and scooted her forward until she was pressed against his hard chest, the fur of his collar tickled against her chin.
"Then tell me you feel nothing when I do this…"
Yoshino watched as he leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss on her lips.
"Nothing." Yoshino muttered against his lips.
"Hm…how about when I do this." Masaru replied calmly.
The fingers of his free hand ran along the hem of her shirt and dipped beneath to dance across the skin of her back. The hand on the back of her neck turned her head to the side as his lips grazed against the exposure of her neck. It burned terribly where he was kissing, and nipping against her smooth skin. It felt deliciously good and she didn't want him to stop. She secretly liked it when he took control and kissed her like this, she was clueless as what to do and if she did do something it would give away her feelings toward him. His lips left the warmth of her skin and he looked at her beneath hooded eyes, his eyes liquid amber as they stared at her.
"Speechless with want aren't you?" Masaru growled.
Yoshino swallowed hard as she disentangled herself from around him. Her fingers shook as she straightened her shirt.
"Your body betrays what your words won't say." Masaru observed casually as he folded his arms over his chest, he glanced at the sky and smirked. "I have to go."
He took off quickly leaving her in the middle of the street, sand blowing in the wind. Why did he even bother stopping in to see her before he returned to his village? She would rather he just stayed way. She blamed the sand for the reason why her eyes were stinging again.
Yoshino walked slowly to the front gate, envelope in hand. The blue robe of her outfit was casually flipped behind her shoulder showing off her white shirt and blue shorts. She like the color blue, it matched her eyes and complimented her reddish hair. She remembered a time when she wanted to have the dark beauty of her Mother's. However, she soon became content with her looks and lot in life, why fight what the fates gave you?
She smiled and nodded to the civilians as they greeted her, stopping a few times to exchange a friendly comment or two, or just to ask how someone's sick child was or if their husband was healing up ok from his last mission. The people of the village looked to her as the future, at least, that was what her Father drilled into her head every chance he got. That was why he used her as his ambassador. That was why she was sent to Konohagakure to discuss chunin exam dates, trade routes, and threats that could possible be brought before the two lands.
Currently she was being sent to the front gate to greet some old friends of the family. Well her Mother's old teammates, her Father argued that they were not his friends.
She had met the Inuzuka family when she was ten. Their oldest son Masaru and she had taken the Chunin exams together. She found him loud and obnoxious, him and the slobbery undisciplined mutt that was always at his side. Masaru was three years older than her and loved to rub it in whenever they met up. But yet like everything that was forbidden she was drawn to him.
Coming to a halt by the front gate she smiled at Shima who was slumped over snoring, while his partner Kano was diligently keeping watch for approaching visitors.
"Morning Yoshino." Kano greeted.
"Good Morning Kano Sensei. You would think Shima would be wide awake with excitement on the return of his wife." Yoshino replied as she handed the missive to Kano. "It's from Shawna."
Kano's green eyes light up like they always did when he got a letter from his wife. "He was up all night thinking Tu was coming in the evening." Kano scanned the letter and shook his head. "Sometimes I wonder how we are even related."
Shima suddenly came awake with a started gurgle and a shout. "Dog food."
Kano looked at his cousin with raised eyebrows. "What were you dreaming?"
Shima wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "Hey Yoshino." Shima greeted than with excitement leaned forward. "Guess what? Tu's bringing home a puppy."
Yoshino schooled her facial features to stay bland and unemotional much like her Father's. She carried the same affection for the beasts as her Father did, such creatures were nuisances. Even if the Family dog Anubis had been the only exception to the rule. Before she could form a pleasant response back a loud howl rang out across the sandy dunes.
"It's Tu." Shima cried as he jumped over the station he was manning.
Yoshino tried to settle the strange excitement that ran through her limbs as she picked out Masaru. His chin length brown hair was curled wildly around his ears and the fur of his hood. The red triangular tattoos that defined him as an Inuzuka were pronounce on his cheek bones, she could practically see the wide toothy grin that showed off his canine teeth.
There was a flurry of excitement in the air as the group arrived at the gate. The dogs that traveled with the group howled and barked their greetings. Shima shouted his excitement as he picked Tu up and swung her around, kissing her soundly. Yoshino spotted her Aunt and Uncle within the group and smiled as they gave her a hug.
Yoshino did her duty as she greeted The Inuzuka clan leader Kiba and his strikingly beautiful wife Aiko. The group headed out toward the complex leaving Yoshino to bring up the rear. A warm arm casually was slung across her shoulders. The strong scent of wood, dog biscuits and cinnamon assaulted her nose as she looked up into the grinning face of Masaru.
"Hey there you smoking hot red head." Masaru whispered in a husky voice.
Unable to help herself she shivered at the tone of his voice and the way his fingers began to twirl the long strands of her red hair.
"That is a very improper way to address the daughter of the Kazekage." Yoshino snapped out as she stiffened.
"I love it when you pull rank on me, Sand Princess." Masaru rumbled out in a growl. His breath washed over her face like a warm breeze.
"I don't know why you tagged along." Yoshino snapped out stiffly as she withdrew his hand from her shoulders.
"For the celebration of course." Masaru replied as he walked beside her.
Yoshino noticed the looks she and Masaru were being given by his parents. Aiko had a frown on her face while Kiba wore a smirk very similar to his son's. Matchmaking parents were the worst.
"Your parents are friends of mine but you aren't, you seem to infuriate my Father every time you show up." Yoshino muttered darkly as she stepped away from one of his straying hands.
"Your Mother loves me." Masaru leered at her.
"She loves everyone so it doesn't count."
"I saved your life that must put me in your Father's good graces."
"Hn." Yoshino muttered out.
"Yeah you remember." Masaru teased as he caught a strand of her hair and tugged it.
"I had everything under control." Yoshino muttered back her voice was voice of emotion.
"Didn't look like it."
"Be silent." Yoshino hissed out coldly. "And keep your hands to yourself."
"I got you a present." Masaru whispered his lips close to her ear.
Yoshino stepped away from him once more eyeing him warily. She suddenly noticed the slight bulge within his hoody. She watched as his fingers closed around the zipper and pulled it down.
"Spirits, Masaru!" Yoshino hissed out in horror as she reached out to still his hands. "Not right here in broad day light."
Masaru let out a loud howl of laughter, his eyes turned mischievous as he closed a hand over hers.
"Now who has the lecherous mind?" Masaru leered in her face canine teeth snapping inches from her lips. "Admit it you like me."
Yoshino pulled her hand away damn him for taking everything so lightly. She would never admit such a thing out loud. Her blue eyes watched his fingers pull down the zipper once more to reveal a small black puppy with green eyes staring back at her. Her throat went dry, her heart contracted painfully as she stared at the creature. She knew exactly what the present meant. No person other than a member of the Inuzuka clan was given a dog. Her Mother was the exception to that rule, and Anubis had been a family pet not a working nin-dog.
Swallowing Yoshino could tell that this creature was not to be used as a pet. This black furry creature was a pure breed, with green eyes wise with intelligence and knowledge.
"Her name is Isis and she's yours." Masaru purred out with affection.
Yoshino stepped away from him in horror at what he was saying. She schooled her face into a blank sheet of no emotion, willed her blue eyes to turn to ice and her lips into a thin line. The sand around her swirled around her wrists and fingertips.
"No." She said the one word with such coldness it would have frozen anyone normal person.
That wasn't the case for Masaru his eyes turned livid his face darkened at her word the tattoos along his cheek bone were more pronounced than ever. Then his lips turned into an almost feral grin.
"Ah you are indeed your Father's daughter. Follow his ever order. Why did I think you would be any different?" Masaru leered at her.
Yoshino didn't reply she just stood there. Cold and uncaring words never hurt she always kept that thought running through her mind.
"The Kazekage's daughter will of course be given into an advantageous marriage nothing less than another kage, or feudal lord not some mere clan leader like myself." Masaru's face twisted in pain.
Yoshino shook her head. He was poor at hiding his emotions; he let them fall all over for everyone to see while she hid hers to keep others from using them against her.
"You're a snob, Yoshinoand you relish being one." Masaru threw out harshly as he zipped his hoody back and walked past her following slowly behind the others.
Yoshino stood there watching him walk away, a stinging burning was apparent against her eyes but she blinked quickly and the stinging went away.
Gaara slipped through the window quietly his fingers automatically untied the ribbons of the ANBU mask and let the porcelain panther mask slip into the palm of his hand. His eyes adjusted to the dark immediately as he set the mask on the table and began pulling his black shirt off.
"Where have you been?" The accusing voice of his wife rang through the room sharp as a knife.
The shock of it threw him off balance making him tumble backwards onto the bed as he yanked the shirt off. He raised his eyes to see the looming shadow of his wife hands on her lovely hips, lips set in a grim line.
"Answer me Gaara." Hinata ordered her voice tight with anger.
Gaara just folded his hands behind his head, relaxed on the bed, and stared up at her with a smirk.
"Make me." Gaara hissed out.
"Don't play games Gaara! You were spying on your daughter?"
"Is she home from her date?" Gaara asked his voice gruff sounding.
"You should know that better than anyone else." Hinata snapped as she threw her hands in the air and walked to the window.
"Don't know what you're talking about." Gaara replied in a sulking voice.
"Really?" Hinata asked with sarcasm as she reached out the window to latch it shut. "You take your daughter's skills for granted. Yoshino knows better than anyone about how to tell when someone is stalking her."
Gaara muttered something under his breath.
"She's angry Gaara, you had no right to spy on them."
Gaara sat up in haste and glared at his wife. "I have every right to spy on her. Yoshino is my daughter, future leader of this village, this village's top ambassador to the other countries, she's the top teacher at the academy...she's..."
"Do you hear yourself Gaara? Are you even listening to your words? You have just described your daughter as some object that this village can't live without. Yoshino is eighteen and if she wants to go on a date that is quite alright."
"Not if I don't..."
"Stop it." Hinata snapped out as she stood before him once more.
Gaara snarled under his breath as he began untying his sandals.
"She is a teenager and I want her to have a normal life."
"Yoshino will never have a normal life, Hinata. She is my daughter. No child of ours will ever have a normal life." Gaara dropped each sandal and watched as Hinata bent down to pick them up and place them in their closet. "And I have worked hard to allow our children every opportunity. I let her become a shinobi, haven't I?"
"That's only because it's a requirement to become Kazekage." Hinata replied as she caught the black pants Gaara threw at her.
"I'm just being a good parent." Gaara snarled.
Hinata threw his sleeping boxers at him a little too forcefully as the article of clothing hit him in the face.
"She likes the man, Gaara." Hinata replied through clenched teeth.
"I don't care what she likes Hinata. Masaru is just like his Father; wild and out of control he uses girls and throws them away, this is just a fad."
Hinata crossed her arms again, her face was in the shadows but he could feel the anger in her stare and he was positive her lavender eyes were sparkling with rage.
"Masaru loves her Gaara."
"You don't know that."
"And you are oh-so-wise about the feelings of your daughter?"
Gaara grumbled under his breath about nagging wives, and disobedient children. Hinata sighed as she sat next to Gaara and took his hand in hers.
"Promise me you won't make it hard on Yoshino to like this boy." Hinata whispered.
"Fine," Gaara bit out, "I promise to let him live."
"You're hopeless." Hinata sighed out with a shake of her head.
"And you love me for it." Gaara purred out as he managed to pull Hinata in for a heated kiss.
"Have you noticed that Yoshino has been avoiding the social activities?" Gaara whispered to Hinata who was sitting next to him.
Hinata turned her attention off the practice sparing that was going on between Haruto and Ebizu.
"You finally noticed, how perceptive of you." Hinata replied, her voice heavy with sarcasm.
"You're not going to try and start something are you?" Gaara asked in annoyance.
"Me?" Hinata asked with fake innocents. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"Will you go and see what's wrong with her?" Gaara asked.
"No." Hinata replied shortly as she turned back to the match below.
Gaara growled under his breath. "I suppose you want me to give in."
"Its not giving in Gaara its letting our daughter choose her own path." Hinata replied her eyes still on Haruto.
"Oh! I suppose you would have chosen a different path." Gaara replied in a sulking tone.
Hinata turned her lavender eyes on Gaara. Her slender hand reached out and cupped the side of his face and she leaned in until there noses touched. A soft smile spread across her lips.
"I love you very much Gaara. Our children are proof of that. Do you honestly want our children to grow up the way we did?"
"No." Gaara breathed out against her lips.
"Neither do I. I want Yoshino to fall madly, deeply in love with a man. I want Haruto to find a woman that makes his pulse race with excitement. I want our children to find a love like ours."
Gaara was silent; he was going to lose his daughter either way. He had such high hopes for her such grand plans. The Inuzuka men ruined everything.
"I'll speak with her." Gaara replied as he gave Hinata a quick kiss.
It didn't take the great sand leader long to find his daughter moping in the gardens. He silently stood next to her, waiting for her to say something. The silence was deafening, yet comforting at the same time.
"You know Father I was perfectly content being on my own. Following your orders, carrying out missions with my team, being the ambassador between the two villages." Yoshino paused.
"I know what you mean." Gaara replied. "I was perfectly fine on my own."
"Than you met Mother." Yoshino replied.
"Yes and it all changed. Your Mother filled in a part of my heart I didn't even think I had."
Yoshino gave a big breath and turned to face her Father.
"I love him."
Gaara blinked at the statement. Not because it was a surprise, he knew something like this was coming the first time Masaru had carried Yoshino out of the Forest of Darkness. His little girl was all grown up.
"And he loves you?" Gaara asked.
"Yes." Yoshino replied simply.
"If Masaru makes you happy than you have my blessing." Gaara replied.
Yoshino's next action caught Gaara off guard, growing up she had never been one for hugs or kisses. But suddenly she was in her Fathers arms. Gaara slowly closed his arms around his little girl in a comforting embrace. In that moment, Gaara knew he had made the right decision.
Hinata smiled with joy as she watched Yoshino throw herself into Masaru's arms. The innocence of their love was a joy to her heart. Hinata gave a sniff as she closed her fingers around Gaara's hand and looked up at him.
"It will be alright Gaara." Hinata whispered reassuringly.
Gaara's eyes burned, the sting of unwanted tears was such a discomfort. He felt his entire world crash before his very eyes as he watched his pride and joy in the arms of a rough, barbaric, smelly Inuzuka man. How could this have happened?
"It's love, Gaara, and that's one emotion that is too strong to hide."
"I still expect her to be Kazekage." Gaara muttered.
"We will cross that bridge when it comes." Hinata whispered against his neck.
Gaara let out a sigh as he turned his neck to the side to allow his wife better access to his skin, he liked it when she nibbled at his skin.
"Did you know your son just completed his first c-rank mission?"
"Haruto has completed several c-rank missions." Gaara replied with confusion.
"Well this is the first one he completed without incident." Hinata replied as she kissed his skin lovingly.
Gaara pulled away from Hinata and smiled down at her. "There's hope for him yet."
Hinata laughed at him. "There is always hope, Gaara."
He placed an arm around his wife and rested his head atop her hair, which even with age was still just as black, soft and lush as it had been twenty years ago when they first married. His green eyes watched his daughter walk down the street hand in hand with Masaru, but he didn't feel that pain any more, no, he just felt a little sad that his little sand princess was growing up. But that was what having a family was all about; raising one's children and letting them go.
"I have a surprise for you." Gaara suddenly said turning to his wife. "You have to close your eyes."
Hinata smiled brightly to him as she closed her eyes. Gaara gently led her down one of the gardens paths.
"Can I open my eyes now?" Hinata asked in excitement.
"It wouldn't be a surprise than." Gaara contradicted in a bored voice.
"You don't sound very happy. It must not be a good surprise." Hinata commented.
Gaara almost rolled his eyes at his wife of twenty years. She loved every surprise he had ever given her.
"Are we there yet?" Hinata asked.
"Now you sound like Haruto, on a mission." Gaara replied as he led her down the path to the gardens.
He gently positioned Hinata to stand in front of him. He placed his hands on her shoulders and placed a kiss against her neck. He smiled at the sound of her gasp, even after so long they still had such an effect on each other.
"Open your eyes." Gaara whispered against her ear.
Hinata opened her eyes and let out a sigh of appreciation. The elegant white petals of the Reina de la Noche had opened to spread its fragrance this one evening out of the year, on their anniversary. The soft floral scent had a touch of sweetness to it as it floated in the air around them. Hinata turned around in Gaara's arms and smiled.
"Happy 20th anniversary." Gaara greeted.
"I love you." Hinata whispered as she reached her fingers up and ran them through his hair.
"Really?" Gaara asked. "Even after everything I've put you through?"
"Ah but you see, that's what I love about you Gaara, you love our family, yes even Hanabi. You take your role as Father, Husband, and Kazekage seriously and you manage to balance family life and work. And for that I couldn't ask for more."
Gaara smiled against her neck before he pulled back and cupped the side of her face. "And I have been blessed with a loving wife two beautiful children, a niece and nephew. A family that I thought I would never have. And I love you, Hinata, for giving me all of this."